Monday, December 5, 2011

Things That Have Me Thinking This Week...December 5, 2011

Here are the most thought-provoking articles and blog posts that I came across in the last week.   


Choking on the Common Core Standards - Washington Post's Answer Sheet 

As we all await the coming of the Common Core Standards for all of our students, it is interesting to read the comments of Joanne Yatvin, the President of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), who provided her thoughts on the standards in this article yesterday.

Yatvin, an educator with over 50 years experience, highlights a number of standards that are well beyond the grasp of the grade levels they are written for and give the following examples:

Gr. 1: Know and use various text features (e.g., headings, tables of
contents, glossaries, electronic menus, icons) to locate key facts or
information in a text.

Gr. 5: Analyze multiple accounts of the same event or topic, noting
important similarities and differences in the point of view they
This is a glaring example of what happens when non-educators are left to make decisions about student learning.  As Yatvin notes, "these standards were written by highly educated adults who do not teach children at present and, possibly, never did."

How Not To Reform Education - Scott McLeod

This post from Scott McLeod discusses the fact that our country's education reform initiatives are being  touted as "the anti-model" for school reform.  Check out the priority list for countries around the globe who are doing a better job at providing a more relevant education for their students:
  1. Funding schools equitably, with additional resources for those serving needy students
  2. Paying teachers competitively and comparably
  3. Investing in high-quality preparation, mentoring and professional development for teachers and leaders, completely at government expense
  4. Providing time in the school schedule for collaborative planning and ongoing professional learning to continually improve instruction
  5. Organizing a curriculum around problem-solving and critical thinking skill
  6. Testing students rarely but carefully -- with measures that require analysis, communication, and defense of ideas
Homework in the 21st Century - Race to Nowhere Blog

A worthwhile read which may change the way you look at homework. Let's face it, how many of us have had experience with homework that is purely busy work?  This post from the folks that brought us the documentary Race to Nowhere highlights some research that points to the fact that we may need some new conversations on this topic. Here's one excerpt:
"According to independent scholar Alfie Kohn, homework at the elementary level fails to be beneficial even if one regards standardized testing as a useful measure. In fact, his studies also show that even at the high school level there is a minimal correlation between grades and homework."
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